by Matt Stoller, Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 10:30:40 AM EST
by Chris Bowers, Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 06:19:08 AM EST
What sort of problem are we facing in Connecticut? Here are some selections form just the last two months. In one of the bluest states in the nation, we are dealing with a "Democrat"who loves Sean Hannity, who was the first person to applaud Bush during the SOTU, and whose loyalty to his party extends so far that he has said he will leave the party if he loses a primary. Lieberman publicly trashes Democrats like Murtha who propose withdrawal plans, while in the same breath he defends Bush. Republican lobbyists are lining up behind Lieberman. Lieberman has endorsed McCain for President, and trashed Barack Obama. And like I said, that was all just in the last two months. And that was a partial selection.
There once was a time, not long ago, that Arlen Specter was the Republican version of Joe Lieberman. From 2001-2004, when the balance of power in the Senate was nearly equal, he led the moderate Republican lunch club, which set him up as a potential powerbroker to defeat extremist legislation. After President Bush's "re-election" in 2004, he made a grand threat against his own party to stop any judicial nominees who would overturn Roe. The Google search "Arlen Specter" RINO turns up just over 30,000 matches, many sending criticism toward Specter that could have been written by commenters on progressive blogs about Joe Lieberman, were the proper names in the critiques changed. Also much like Joe Lieberman, Specter's approval rating in his home state is actually higher among members of the opposing party (+26) than among members of his own party (+28).
Fast-forward to early 2006. Arlen Specter has disbanded the moderate lunch. He has worked to confirm both of Bush's conservative Supreme court nominees, Roberts and Alito, with nary any criticism whatsoever. He refuses to swear in the attorney general when he is called to testify about Bush's warrant-less eavesdropping program. Thus far, during the entire 109th congress, he has never broken with the majority of his own party on even a single Senate vote. And you certainly don't hear Specter making nay more sweeping statements about how he is going to stop Bush's extremist agenda.
What happened to Specter is what we hope to achieve by challenging Joe Lieberman. Specter was severely challenged in a primary. After he narrowly won that primary, his position as committee chair was then challenged by Dobson and the conservative theocroroots. These challenges worked so well that basically the entire Republican moderate caucus has been utterly defeated. Specter was put in his place, and the country was titled even further off-center by the Republican political machine.
Joe Lieberman is a full-blown disaster for the Democratic Party. It seems to be his mission in life to repeat and help reify every single Republican narrative about Democrats. Challenging him in a primary is all about trying to reclaim the national political narrative for Democrats. We need to send a message to every Democrat who is willing to carry water for Republicans that if you are willing to talk about your own party in the same way Republicans talk about your party, then you will face severe consequences from within your party. As kos wrote: It's not about "liberal" or "conservative". This is a point, I think, that most new-school activists understand. It's the old-school DC-centric crowd, exactly the kind of jokers we rip in our book, who insist in seeing the world as it existed back in the 1980s, as a battle between ideological factions.
Do we think Reid is "liberal" because he's stands up to Republican excesses? Nope. Schweitzer? Nope. We call them "Democrats".
I don't like Lieberman because he carries water for the GOP. He reinforces right-wing frames. Because he rolled over during the recount in 2000 without fighting for the victory Gore had earned. Because he is the go-to guy whenever the press needs a Democrat to bash another Democrat. He thinks it makes him a maverick or something. In fact, it makes him a tool of the GOP.
Of course, it doesn't help that his views on Iraq are colored by fantasy and wishful-thinking, rather than the realities on the ground. Arlen Specter no longer damages the national Republican Party by helping to reinforce the notion that they are extremist, theocratic, and divided. Joe Lieberman still works to reinforce several national narratives about Democrats, including that they are extremist, weak on defense, and can't talk values. We are challenging him to put an end to that. It is time for Democrats to stand up.
by DownWithTyranny, Sun Feb 12, 2006 at 03:26:41 PM EST
I love MoveOn.org/ It's an organization I've supported and contributed to and it's an organization I take seriously. When they raised the anti-Lieberman banner a few months ago I responded at once and when Ned Lamont jumped into that race last week I was one of the first bloggers to interview him, write a story on him and set up an ACT BLUE page for him. It doesn't surprise me one bit to have learned today that 2 big-time Republican hacks and lobbyists, Craig Fuller and H.P. Goldfield, hosted a fund-raising dinner for Lieberman a couple nights ago at Goldfield's Washington home, a home that is often used to raise money for people named Bush. Nor does it surprise me that most of the dinner's host committee were, in fact, lobbyists.
But what did surprise me was when my pal Matt from Say No to Pombo pointed out which reactionary Democrat MoveOn.org has endorsed and is actively raising money for. Right now MoveOn has 6 people up on their 2006 Endorsed page. I was surprised enough to find neither Ciro Rodriguez nor Francine Busby, two progressives with special elections coming right up. But then I was appalled at what I did see up: Bob Casey, a somewhat reactionary Democrat who gratuitously announced he would have not only been the 20th Democrat to have voted for the cloture bill Move On so vigorously opposed, but that he also would have voted to confirm Alito! While MoveOn is urging us to help put an end to the disgraceful political career of Joe Lieberman-- a wonderful goal-- they are also complicit in creating the next Senator Lieberman. Now, you may say, we must get rid of Rick Santorum (R-Opus Dei)-- I certainly do-- and that even if Casey is a reactionary Democrat, he's still a Democrat. But that's an argument for after the primary, not an argument to prematurely endorse a miserable candidate when progressives have a potentially great candidate, Chuck Pennacchio, who we should be doing all we can to bolster in the face of heavy-handed DSCC interference (whose goal is to make a Casey v Santorum race look inevitable).
by Matt Stoller, Sat Feb 11, 2006 at 08:41:32 AM EST
I'm going to meet with Ned Lamont, Lieberman's challenger, on Monday at noon with a few other bloggers. Hopefully there will be video on hand. What would you like me to ask him? Also, if you are a commenter on MyDD and you live around CT and would like to come, email me at stoller at gmail.com.
by Matt Stoller, Wed Feb 08, 2006 at 03:11:54 AM EST
The McCain-Obama fight is one of those insider-y deals which has nothing to do with the argument and everything to do with changing power dynamics in the Senate. Currently, McCain is trying to push Obama off the bipartisan reform stage, and using a vicious attacks and the complicit Beltway talking heads to do so. I'm not just saying that, read the correspondence (or read the partisan blog Redstate's joyous celebrations over McCain's red meat throw). It's extremely clear that Obama is asking McCain for a procedural request, while McCain's letter is bitterly sarcastic, partisan, and insulting. Obama's second letter, praising McCain, makes this point especially well. A key figure here is Lieberman, because he was actually at the meeting where the misunderstanding took place, and because he is part of the bipartian group working on lobbying reform. As I wrote yesterday:
Lieberman can call out McCain on his partisan slash-and-burn strategy, and buttress Obama's claim to bipartisanship. Or he can participate in the smear and ask both sides to calm down, even though this attack is entirely one-sided and it is very clear that Obama is seeking a bipartisan good ethics bill.
Well, on Imus this morning, Don Imus interviewed Lieberman. And while I don't have the transcript yet, the gist of the conversation was as follows. Imus asked Lieberman about the fight, and Lieberman alleged that it was all a big misunderstanding and that both men had were interested in getting a good bipartisan bill out of the process. He implied that both men had cleared up the misunderstanding. Imus at that point interjected that McCain stands by his letter, and Lieberman changed course. Lieberman then said that McCain stood by his letter, and Obama stood by his letter, except that Obama probably wishes he were a little clearer.
And then Imus and Lieberman talked about Joe's wife and how she leaves angry diatribes on his voice mail, and that he can just delete them. Finally, Lieberman added that he hopes it's a one day story, on the third day of the story, on Imus. Later in the interview, he bragged about his work with McCain on some legislation. Looks like he made his choice.
Oh, and earlier in the interview, Lieberman agreed with Imus that there was "some nonsense" at Coretta Scott King's funeral.
UPDATE: I should add that Lieberman is a very mild-mannered and nice man, and so if you're not aware of the context this can appear a bit overanalytical. But the choices he's making are clear.
UPDATE: It's not just my imagination. A Senate aide watching the interview this morning sent me this comment:
Absolutely spot on. He sold Obama so far down the river that he's now swimming off the gulf coast.